Content Analysis and the Intelligence Function
Content analysis is a systematic and rigorous way of doing what humanistic students of ideas and behavior have always done, namely, to look at what symbols are used in a body of text. Such observations of the flow of symbols become content analysis or social science if some attention is paid to the procedures of observation. Content analysis is only a portion of the intelligence function that makes democratic and rational decision making possible. Of seven functions which Harold Lasswell distinguishes as taking place in the process of decision—intelligence, recommendation, prescription, innovation, application, appraisal, and termination—it is the intelligence function that offers the content analyst or other man of learning the opportunity to humanize the exercise of power. The future of content analysis lies, as Lasswell realized from the beginning, in very broad uses in the intelligence function, not just in its occasional use by social scientists for testing general propositions.